Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Broken...

Today I took everything off the sweet little antique hutch in the kitchen. This hutch is purely for decoration, and I have some of my favorite things on it. I aimed to wash all those treasures, then rearrange a bit to freshen things up. While I had everything off, the hutch got a good scrubbing, and I pulled it out and cleaned the wall and floor behind and under it.

One of the things I carefully washed and dried was a sweet little white glass bird figurine. I bought it shortly after I moved to Maine, and it is something that never failed to make me smile a bit when I saw it. It was white, made of a bisque type porcelain, and appeared to by lying down, as if it were in a nest. It had a long bill like a wren, and when my friend gave me a wee little birds nest she found I tucked that bird into it and it was just, well, cute. As I carefully cleaned it I thought, "If this broke I'd never find another like it." I put it on a cloth to dry while I cleaned other things.

A bit into my project I grabbed a cloth to dry a tureen, and saw, out of the corner of my eye, something arch through the air. A delicate tinkling marked it's landing on the tile floor.



And there you have it. Broken into too many pieces to even contemplate getting the glue out. I was sad for a moment. Then I remembered a blog I recently read. A woman from Australia put all her worldly belongings in storage and took a year or so to travel about. She began a business in England, and decided to sell EVERYTHING she had stored, (except for a few small personal items.) She told of her struggle of letting go of all she had. She told of how easy it was to move about in the world when she had so few possessions holding her down.

As someone who cares deeply about my "stuff," this was good food for thought. I need to practice letting go. Fly, little bird!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Remember..?

My daughter is 25 and lives about 3 hours away from here. She comes to visit often, because we are best pals, and it is always a treat to have her home. One of the things we love to do best is go swimming together at a small pond just a few miles from our house. We have not had time to do that all summer so far.

We first discovered the place just a week or two after moving in 11 years ago. A neighbor girl about my daughters age told us about it one hot summers day, and we fell in love, hard. To get there we take a right out of our driveway, drive through our tiny town center (town hall, volunteer fire department, library. That's it!) up a lovely narrow, winding road. Then take a right on a dirt road so rural that is closed all winter, and park in a small depression between some woods and a blueberry barren. Walk down over huge granite boulders, then along a pebble trail, past a puddle where we can usually find a speckled frog (or two.) Take a left where the blackberries grow with reckless abandon, down a dirt trail and then, there it is. Glittering in the sun, and silent, a sweet little spring fed pond. It was once an ice pond, (a place where locals harvested ice to keep their food cold in their ice boxes .)



Sometimes when we go there are no people at all. But usually there are 2-6 other souls enjoying the peace and cool water. Today there were four people there when we arrived, just two and a small dog when we finished. The water was clear and sparkling, and as we swam we encountered areas were the springs are bubbling below, and the water there is cold and feels so nice on a summer day.

We giggled and splashed and swam. We found the huge granite boulder we like to stand on and play "king of the hill." The sun shone down and the wavelets glistened. Crickets sang their late summer song on the shore and frogs chimed in from the marshy edges. Otherwise there was blissful silence.

My daughter asked, "Remember when we came in the rain?" I did.

It was an unusually hot summer day several years ago, when my daughter was a teenager. Company was coming and I had asked her to help me clean the house to get ready. All day she had whined and teased and whined some more, wanting to go for a dip. I had promised her that when our chores were done we would swim as a reward. When the house was shining I said, "Ok, suit up," and we did, but by the time we got to the truck, dark storm clouds were rolling in from the west. As I pulled out of the driveway a few fat raindrops plopped on my dusty windshield. "We don't HAVE to go," my daughter said, dejected, as she slumped in the seat. "OH NO!" I replied. "WE are GOING!" We had both had that swim in our minds all day, a delicious carrot dangled before us as we worked. The rain pattered down as I drove the few, scant miles, and the parking spot was empty when we pulled in. We ran down the path, each droplet of rain fairly sizzling on our hot skin as we went. At the waters edge we shucked off our shoes, stashed our towels under a dense bush and dove off the granite shore into the water. It was cool, and silent. Our heads popped back up and we became still, mesmerized to see the rain drops as they met and married the still pond water right at eye level. Each droplet hit the surface and danced back up, before falling again to meld seamlessly with the chill body of the little pond. We were utterly alone, with a dome of thick clouds overhead, and submerged to our jaw lines in the rippling embrace of our favorite place. We floated in silence, mesmerized by the music and sight of rain on water.

And the memory lingers. A reminder of the importance of taking time to make such moments happen. "Remember?" It can be the sweetest of words.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

On board...

Today's Magic up your blog challenge is: "How do you get your spouse on board with your business?"

This makes for a short blog, I think.
One thing about this guy I married, he is always behind me 100%.




30 years ago when I wanted to follow my heart and not was "expected" of me, he encouraged me to work for pennies while I learned the trade of pet grooming. When I wanted to go to trade shows to learn more, he found a way to squeeze the budget so I could do so. When I desired to pursue an elite certification he bought me the whole package for Christmas, then pushed and nudged me to study and test and do the travel needed to complete that dream, quickly.

So it was no surprise that when life recently suggested I leave my secure job and throw caution to the wind to start a new home-based business, he became my personal cheer leader. When I waffled, "Do I cheap out and buy the $300 widget or go for the gusto and buy the $1,000 one?" he was adamant, "Buy the best. I want you go go to work in the morning and have everything just exactly as you want it. I don't want you to have buyers remorse over the tools you use." I embraced his suggestion and am thankful every day.

Early on in our marriage he said, "Isn't it nice to know you always have someone who's got your back?" Nice doesn't quite begin to describe it.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Union Farmers Market...

All week long I look forward to the Union Farmers Market. It's not very big, but there is just something so upbeat and happy about it.
In the past I could rarely go, because by the time I was done with work on Friday they were wrapping things up, but now that I am grooming from home I can go every week, and I have!

There is often live music. Today's music was delivered by a young woman so beautiful I just had to take her picture. She played sweetly, too. Doesn't she just have a magical glow about her?



There are booths selling locally made goat cheese and locally raised meats, lots of produce, and amazing baked goods...
I bought a raspberry tart made from fresh local berries. It tastes like summer exploding on my tongue!


I love to see the plants and wreaths and dried flower arrangements...



Something about this sweet little market makes me feel joyous.

After the market I stopped by my friends house. I admired their young turkey poults, the adorable Indian Runner ducklings,the enormous bull that is going to a new farm tomorrow, and then was gobsmacked by how lovely their vegetable garden is...




I came home my little outing with fresh corn on the cob, a fragrant little rustic Boule loaf, and that above mentioned tart. I am alone this week because my husband is off on a business trip. I've been mostly snacking but tonight I cooked a little steak on the grill, and an ear of corn, and dipped the bread in some garlic olive oil sauce I whipped up. A feast enjoyed at the picnic table surrounded by my critters. Like the rest of this perfect summer day, it was a treat.



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I believe...

I believe there are things that we cannot explain.
I believe there are powers around us that we cannot see, or truly understand. Rather like we know that there is electricity, though we cannot see it.

I've been wanting to write about this for a while, but wasn't sure how. Or if I could. Or if I should. But it keeps knocking on my skull, waiting to be let out, so here it is.

When I was a very little girl in the early 1960's my family went to church every week. I grew up in a wee, small town, and we went to the beautiful church near the town center. I can still see it in my minds eye... the wide steps, the doors that were never locked, the hard, simple pews and the tall windows. I would go to Sunday school, and wear a frilly dress and lacy socks and GLOVES. The gloves might have only been at Easter, but they are firmly in my memory. My mother even had a white leather glove box in her dresser, with different types of gloves for different occasions, but I digress.



At some point, when I was between the ages of 6 and 10, there was some scandal with the minister. Lots of whispered talk happened among the adults I knew, and our family abruptly stopped our Sunday morning ritual. There was a field across the street from where we lived, and, apparently missing that which I had lost, I used to take the bible that I had been given in church (it had my name embossed on the black cover in gold letters!) to my favorite spot in that meadow and read it. I loved the 23 Psalm the best. But that whole mysterious break with the church left my young self feeling oddly angry and unhappy. I decided, very firmly,at a young age, there was NO God. And that is where I stood for much of my life, despite going to a Christian based college and taking classes in religion and being surrounded with Christian friends and professors.

Years passed and then something happened. My husband and I were living in a sweet, wee house in Memphis, Tennessee. Our daughter was 5 years old, and we were a happy little threesome. Our Sunday morning ritual was that we would have a lovely family breakfast, then cozy up in the living room and read the paper together while our daughter played. It was March 5th, the sun was slanting in through the windows and my husband I were sitting on the squishy mauve and blue sofa sharing sections of newspaper and commenting to each other about what we read. Daughter Rachel was sitting on the carpet in a pool of sunshine, surrounded by toys, happily entertaining herself. Suddenly, I was awash in what can only be described as pure JOY. It was overwhelming, all encompassing, breathtaking. It was like every fiber of my being was infused with light and love and goodness and a level of elation I had never known. My eyes welled with tears. I said to my husband, "This may sound weird, but I am COMPLETELY happy." I was imbued with the sense that all was well, everything was as it should be, and my entire being was alight in a way I had never before experienced. I was utterly content, and more. Truly, I do not know the words to describe the sensations I experienced. Moments later, the phone rang. It was my sister, sobbing. She had news to tell me... our father had just died. My emotions took a roller coaster dive, from elation to extreme sorrow, in one blinding second.

Later I wondered, what was it that made me so incredibly joy-filled in those moments? The answer that came to me was that my beloved fathers spirit was passing by me as he moved from this plane to the next, and shared his elation with me. We had a close relationship, and it was not a stretch for me to think he would swing by for a visit on his way to his next stop.



A few years passed. My elderly mother died, and then, too young, my older sister. I grieved her death hard. She was only 53, and vibrant and smart and funny and I had not had enough time with her by far. One day,shortly after she passed, when I was deep in the pain of loss, I was walking across the impeccably, flawlessly, suburban manicured lawn of one of my customers, and looked down to see a perfect hawk feather in the grass. It stood out in that unblemished green expanse and felt like some sort of sign to me.

Meanwhile, a neighbor who had become a friend died. She had been quite ill, and alone, and I had tried to help her as best I could. On the day of her funeral my daughter yelled, "Mommy, Mommy! Come quick!" I ran outside. She was pointing her chubby finger to the sky over our house. "Miss Bobbie is playing with sidewalk chalk in the sky!" A perfect rainbow, in the shape of a flat "C" (not your typical arch) shone over our house. It seemed like a happy message to me, and I was grateful.



It was these things, and more, that led to what someone later gave me a name for. "A suspension of disbelief." That stubborn little girl that refused to imagine there was more than what was tangible let go a bit, and adult me began to understand that I could not know all there was to know, could not see all there was to see.

Years have passed. I have begun to seek out signs that there is something more. Maybe because I am aging. I do not fear death, but I am curious about it. I have read books about the existence of angels. Having a firm vein of skepticism through my core, I do not fully embrace this thought, but it appeals to me just the same. One thing that resonates with me is that if you see a feather, it can be a sign that angels are near. Since I have and care for a flock of 17 chickens and 7 ducks, there are a LOT of feathers in my life. Drifts of them when the birds moult, but new ones almost every day, all year long, here and there. It seems a bit MUCH to that angels are near me as often as I find feathers from my domestic flock.

Tonight, after a long day of work and farm chores, I sat at my comfortable picnic table as the sun sank low,casting the world in Rembrandt light. The space around me was silent except for the contented muttering of hens as they entered the coop, and the sound of the horse and goats as they tore grass and chewed. Happy, I sent up a silent "thank you." It went something like this, "Thank you, God, thank you angels, for the lovely day. Please watch over those I love, please let there be peace and happiness in the world." And then, in my peripheral vision, I saw something. Over the lush pasture grass, falling in slow motion from the evening sky, was a feather.

I watched it as it drifted down, down, and vanished in the undulating green. Without really thinking,I got up from my seat, crossed the lawn, opened the gate and walked across a large expanse to where I thought I had seen that feather fall. The horse saw me coming and came to give me a nuzzle. I stroked her as I looked into the deep herbage below me, knowing the chance of me finding what I thought I had seen fall was needle-in-a-haystack slim.



Yet... there is was. Wee-small and insignificant, but clearly in sight. A flawless feather.

I did not see the bird it fell from, though I am tuned to see the animals around me. I only saw this small, light thing as it floated down on air. It reminds me that there is so much I cannot understand, and there is so much beauty... all around me.





Monday, August 18, 2014

Fun...

Today's blog challenge is, "What do you like to do for fun?"

There are some obvious things...




I adore kayaking, and taking a dip while I'm at it. There is something so serene and joyous about being on the water and so close to nature. I have only kayaked ONE time this summer. I plan to go a lot in the next few weeks to make up for that lack so far.

But I have fun doing things that most people wouldn't consider to be a good time at all!



I have fun at my work, grooming dogs. And I adore writing, which is one of my "other" jobs. I tuck up on my super comfy sofa, with my wonderful laptop. Two or 3 dogs snug in close to me, and I play soft music and the hours fly by in a happy way.



I have a lot of fun just hanging out with my animals. And my husband. I like to let the livestock into the back yard, or take a bucket and sit on it in the pasture, and just watch the critters, and pet them when they come up and "maul" me. It is joyful and almost always good for a belly laugh.

I think mucking out the horse and goat stalls is fun, and cleaning the chicken coop? It's a treat! I'm serious. I love it. Love it all.



I have a great time cooking, and an even better time EATING!



Haunting "junk" shops with my kid is super fun, maybe even more fun than cleaning the chicken coop! I find fun in so much of my daily existence... a blessing beyond measure.





Sunday, August 17, 2014

Gifts...

Today's "Magic up your blog" challenge had me flummoxed. It is this, "How do you use your spiritual Gifts to change lives and make a difference?" My gut answer was, "I don't. I don't have spiritual gifts to share."

But then, while spending a rainy morning surfing the net and gathering information for a magazine article I am working on, I decided that perhaps, in a way, I do. It may be a bit of a stretch, but I am thinking that maybe I make a wee difference by telling stories.



One of my sisters-in-law once asked, "Why do you have a story for everything?" I don't know. I just do. I never really thought about it until today, but ask me about the recipe for something I just cooked for you and more often than not I'll say, "Oh! There is a story about that. I got that recipe from a guy who used to cut my hair and...." If I am to show you some treasure I just found at an antique store, I am apt to tell you a tale about how I happened to find that thing and why it is just perfect for some need I wanted to fill. And usually the stories are happy things, or sort-of-funny things, the kind of spiel that (hopefully) has a smile gently tucked in.

A few years back I had a chicken coop built to house my beloved hens. The man who built it brought his wife and some other family members along to assemble the coop on our property. The wife and I chatted, and I remember I told her a few stories. We are still in touch occasionally, and she has told me several times, "I still remember the stories you told me." I think she means that in a very nice way.

I write articles for several magazines. Some of the editors give me assignments, but my favorite articles are when I get to tell a story about someone that I admire. Someone who does good things that make their corner of the world a better place. Much like the colors and patterns carefully stitched by a quilt artist, I like to think that my stories are woven words that impart my upbeat,rose colored, glass-half-full, "aren't the "little things" just so great?" world view with those I share them with.

Taking the wide-angle view I see that everyone has spiritual gifts to share, and everyone does, in their own unique way.
Because everyone has a story.